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First Date 1388
Last Date
Title Household accounts of the Earl of Derby, 30 September 1388 (folio 16v), Public Records Office, London, DL 28 1/2.
Author Hugh de Waterton (a.1373–1409)
Quote From accounts for 30 September 1388 in a section headed Necessaria; having dealt with 12 'orange apples' and with repairing a mirror it says:

Et pro j fistula nomine Recordour empta London' pro domino iij s iij d

Notes Hugh de Waterton was a trusted servant of the House of Lancaster. By 1386 he was Bolingbroke's chamberlain. When Bolingbroke came to the throne as Henry IV in 1399, Waterton was appointed Chamberlain of the Duchy of Lancaster, a position which he held until his death.

This is the first unequivocal reference in English to the recorder by name (Trowell 1957). Unfortunately, Trowell did not consult the original household accounts, but relied on a transcript of them in James Hamilton Wylie’s History of England under Henry the Fourth, vol. 3 (1896), and it turns out that Wylie misread the word for the instrument.

Rowland-Jones (2000) has re-examined the original and finds that the superscript horizontal line following the 'o' is an abbreviation for 'ur' in English court hand. Thus although the critical word looks like 'Recordo' and has been interpreted as such, it should really be rendered Recordour and the entire entry should be translated:

"And for one flute by name of Recordour bought in London for my lord, three shillings and four pence."

Note that whereas the word 'fistula' (flute) is treated as a common noun, 'Recordour' is treated as if it were a proper noun like 'London', and that it is qualified by the word 'nomine'. This would seem to indicate that the word (and probably the recorder itself) was new to the language or at least unfamiliar.
References Bornstein (1987)
Higbee (1965)
Hunt (2002)
Lasocki (2007, 2012)
Rowland-Jones (2000)
Rowland-Jones, A. (2003: 4)
Trowell (1957)
Wright (1965)
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